It may have been a while since she’s been involved in a major front-burner storyline, but Esther Valentine on THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS remains a core character and has been for over three decades. Kate Linder was hired for one episode in April of 1982 that developed into a recurring role until 1985 when she was placed on contract with the soap.
Esther was maid and loyal friend to Katherine Chancellor for nearly 20 years, even though she wasn’t always particularly good at her job. She did leave her employ in 1989 to go work for Nina Webster and care for her son, Phillip. Nina even tried to help Esther find love, but all she ended up with was a one-night stand with a guy nicknamed Tiny.
When Esther tried to get her job back with Katherine, she found she’d been replaced by a couple named Robert and Shirley. But it turned out they were in cahoots with Marge, who was a dead ringer for Kay, and were after the Chancellor fortune! Thankfully, Katherine’s son, Brock, returned to town and uncovered the scheme, rescuing the kidnapped Kay and Esther.
Esther discovered she was pregnant and when she gave birth to a baby girl, she named her Kate after her dear friend. Unfortunately, things took a turn when Esther met a con man named Norman Peterson. It started innocently, with her posing as the lady of the house to impress him, and Katherine and hubby Rex acting as servants. But when Rex caught Norman breaking into the safe, he was shot and killed, leaving Kay devastated and Esther wracked with guilt.
Years later, Esther was stunned to learn that fashionista Chloe Mitchell was actually her daughter, Kate! But the young woman was bitter at having been shipped off to boarding school for her entire life and it took some time before they buried the hatchet. Thankfully they reconciled before the birth of Chloe’s daughter, Delia, so Esther could be the doting grandmother.
Esther was devastated when Katherine passed away, and was also a little upset that instead of inheriting the mansion, she was left a generous salary as long as she continued to care for the estate. Then, her granddaughter, Delia, was tragically killed in a hit and run.
Eventually, Esther moved out of the Chancellor estate and took a job working at Crimson Lights. She was also surprised when Chloe returned to Genoa City after giving birth to another daughter, this one named Bella. Eventually, Esther returned to the mansion, working for Jill. She was stunned when Chloe skipped town on her and Kevin’s wedding day after it was revealed she was responsible for Adam’s death. It broke Esther’s heart to let her granddaughter go with Kevin, but he and Bella have returned for occasional visits.
Nowadays, Esther has become a source of sage advice for the people of Genoa City. She knows the history of the city and its residents, and her moral compass helps keep others on the straight and narrow. Stay tuned to see how her story continues, and for more Y&R news, keep reading the CBS edition of Soaps In Depth magazine!